If your goat is pregnant, it's far more likely she's expecting "kids" plural rather than a "kid" singular. While singleton caprine pregnancies occur, the doe most often has twins or triplets -- or more. Rarely, goats may give birth to five kids.
Goat Fertility and Kidding
Most female goats are seasonal breeders, going into estrus in the fall and giving birth in late winter or early spring. Goat gestation lasts between 145 to 155 days, or a little less than five months. Ideally, goat breeders seek a high fertility level in does -- 90 percent or more -- and a birth rate of two goats per pregnancy. It's more common in multiple births greater than two for a kid not to survive until weaning. The more kids a doe has in a pregnancy, the smaller the average birth weight of each newborn, with little kids more likely to die.
Although the numbers of kids a goat produces may not matter in pet goats, on a farm fertility is a priority. Extension agents recommend culling does who have "single births more than once."
The large, predominantly white Boer goat -- most often raised for meat -- is often crossed with other breeds to increase size. The Boer doe has an average kidding rate of 200 percent, or two kids per pregnancy. The Boer breeding rate is "indeterminate," according to the Ohio State University Extension, but does may give birth three times in two years.
Nigerian Dwarf Goats
The smallest goats often give birth to the most kids. The Nigerian dwarf doe often gives birth to three or four kids per pregnancy, and five babies aren't unusual in the breed. On average, each kid weighs about 2 pounds at delivery. These goats are particularly prolific. Unlike larger goats, Nigerian dwarves breed year-round, and become sexually mature at a very early age. Make sure the baby bucks and does are separated by the age of 7 weeks if you don't want unwelcome pregnancies. Does can be safely bred from the age of 7 months on.
Dairy Goat Breeds
Goats used for dairy production must kid regularly to continue producing milk. The average dairy doe's peak milk production period occurs between four to six weeks after giving birth. Dairy goat farmers look for breeds producing an average of two kids per pregnancy. Twins cause the doe to produce more milk, and the kid survivability rate is high. Most dairy does reach sexual maturity and are initially bred at 7 months of age.
The major dairy goat breeds include:
- The LaMancha
- The Oberhasli
- The Alpine
- The Nubian
- The Saanen
- The Toggenburg.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.